How do I convince potential non-disabled partners that I can enjoy sexual activity?
At its core, your question is similar to the one most people ask when they’re interested in starting a new relationship; “how do I show that I’m interested without getting rejected?”
Of course, for people who are disabled, this question includes more layers, especially if you fear the person you’re interested in may reject you because of your disability. But I’m happy to offer you a few ideas that may help pave the road toward satisfying sexual experiences with an able-bodied partner:
- Focus on friendships first. Consider different ways of connecting with people with whom you have common interests…perhaps a volunteer club, theater group or other activity you enjoy. Romantic connections may flow from there. And upon meeting someone who strikes your fancy, take the time to describe more about your interests, your life and what your disability means to you. For example, you could talk about how you find power in your disability…and how a potential partner might, too.
Communicate honestly. If the topic comes up, be open with your crush about what you can and can’t do, sexually. You might also work into the conversation common misconceptions about disabilities and sex to help your potential partner better understand who you are, and your unique capabilities. This also opens the door for your crush to feel “safe” and comfortable asking questions without fear of hurting your feelings or offending you.
Think positively. If you allow your disability to cloud how you think about yourself and your sex life, you’ll probably end up looking less attractive to potential dates. Think and act positively and confidently.
Consider dating services and websites. You may find that first connecting with someone over email or by phone allows you to get to know one another in a more meaningful way before prejudices or misperceptions have a chance to enter in based on appearance alone.
I wish you good luck and good sexual health.
Dr. Tepper directs sexual health education at SexualHealth.com. An AASECT-certified sexuality educator and counselor, his areas of expertise include sexual dysfunctions, sexuality following disability or illness, pleasure and orgasm, relationships, and military and veteran couples' counseling. Dr. Tepper was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.